Sandra is such a wonderful author as well as being a wife, mom, owner of a small publishing company and a truly inspirational person.
I recently had the pleasure to interview Sandra about her writing and life.
Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I grew up a farm kid in southern Manitoba. My parents encouraged us to read early and to stretch our boundaries. My grandparents had a small library, chock full of the classics, I was reading Kipling, Sewell, Twain, et al, in grade school – loved them! My favorite stories where oddly enough, the scary, thrilling, and mysterious ones. Okay, I was a bit of an odd child; which explains why I write in these genres now. I love to entertain, and I would come up with stories to scare my younger siblings. “Oh I know; what a horrible child – I’ve heard it all before. Really, it was all in good fun, and not one of them suffered any long-term effects. LOL”
Spurred on by my English teachers, these stories became written work which started to pile up in my locker. Every June, I would toss them because I didn’t believe people would consider them more than a lark. I ended up working at a large campus library while I attended university and afterward, I was responsible for the production of written material in the majority of my positions [mission statements, practices and procedures for ISO manuals, grant applications etc...].
Flash forward a couple decades later; I managed an Applied Behavioral Analysis team where my past writing experience became a huge asset. When we relocated, I was hired by my city’s Community Services to run a preschool literacy program for ‘at risk’ and ‘low-incidence’ children in our community. I have a son with special needs and saw a gap between my understanding of children on the spectrum and the general publics’ understanding. I decided to change this by writing a story about a child with autism, after which, my fabulous husband encouraged me to write at least one of the thousand story ideas I’d told him over the years. This was how Black Loon Lake came to print.
What does your writing practice look like? How has this practice changed from when you first started?
I carry a notebook with me everywhere, I also have a journal on my nightstand, so when I come up with a story idea, I draft character descriptions, setting, etc… then plot a loose outline. I’m a slow writer, and I conduct a lot of research before I “pants” the details or begin writing in earnest. I write something 6 out of 7 days a week for at least 30 minutes. During the week, I do have a routine of sorts – and will write for 2 – 4 hours a day, minimum. When I first began writing stories, I was much younger and I would go off where no one could find me and write for hours. As a parent, disappearing acts are impossible, so I use the time while they are in school to focus on my work.
You wear several hats, you are a mom, an author and also run a small publishing company, Purple Birch Publishing.Tell me a bit about how you manage to juggle everything?
Wow I sound busy! LOL Loose routines help. I say loose because our lives are unpredictable and I have to be flexible enough to go with the flow some days. I try to get all my errands/chores/dinner prep done within the first 2 hours of dropping of the kids at school. My Crockpot is my best friend! This leaves me 3 hours to write, read or conduct research. I find arriving an hour early at my children’s school, to be productive; while I wait in my vehicle, I read or write notes. It helps me to focus, there’s no distractions, no computer, no unwashed laundry etc… just me and my books. It’s amazing how much you can get done in a week. I’ve just begun using Audio books, and I will ‘read’ a book while I run my errands or do housework – it’s awesome!
In the evening, I’ll write, read or tend my administration. I try to get a good night’s sleep during the week because by Friday night, I’m bagged! My advice; make a plan, keep it real – not too crazy, stagger what needs to be done on certain days, and don’t sweat the small stuff. So you’ve got dust bunnies the size of a cat under your bed – big deal! They’ll still be there tomorrow
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration can come from anywhere, or anything. I’ve had life experiences which have provided inspiration, ideas can flow from dreams, nightmares, or something I’ve read in the news. A conversation with a friend or an encounter at my local Starbucks may plant the seed of a story. I keep a notebook with me – so if an idea strikes, I write it down. If it still looks good in a week, I loosely plot it, make a list of items to research and get to work.
What is your outlook on writing and life?
Be flexible – be open. Life is unpredictable, you have to be malleable if it throws you a curve – if not; you may miss out on a great opportunity. It’s my belief writing has to be viewed the same way. If you’re too entrenched in the dos and don’ts, and it can squash creativity. If you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll be successful – period. You may not make a ton of cash, you may not have a large readership BUT you’ll be doing what you love. What better definition of success is there?
What do you like/dislike about the writing industry?
I loathe the marketing; it feels a little like spamming to me. There’s no magic bullet, you have to put yourself out there even if you’re a true introvert [like me]. I’m not one to jump up and down, wave my hands in air, and shout “look at my book, look at my book”, I’m more the “I’ve written a book, here’s where to find it; I hope you enjoy it. Have a great day!” LOL
I LOVE the writing, the research and developing friendships with like-minded individuals. I’ve met some of the best people because I chose to put words on paper. The camaraderie and generosity of the Indie world is amazing. It’s my comfort zone when I encounter a bump in the road. Some of my connections will be life-long, and that’s a great feeling.
Where can we find your work?
I will be placing my work in Amazon Select program soon. Therefore, my titles will be found exclusively on their site:
Black Loon Lake [thriller/horror novella]by the way…the kindle version is currently free [in case anyone is curious].
The World According to August: One Good Friend [picture book]
Thank you for this opportunity Belinda, you’re such a talent yourself, it’s been an honor to be here. All the best to you and your followers!
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Sandra for taking time out of her busy schedule to share with us. Please check out Sandra’s website www.authorslcoelho.com